By Rev. Oreon K. Trickey
Daily Lectionary Reading: Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Isaiah 40:1-11; John 1:19-28
Selected passage for reflection: Isaiah 40:1-2, 10-11
Isaiah 40:1-2, 10-11 New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition
1 Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
10 See, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him
and his recompense before him.
11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms
and carry them in his bosom
and gently lead the mother sheep.
Isaiah 40 begins with words that are familiar to many of us: “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.” Every time I read this chapter, my mind turns to that song from Handel’s Messiah, often Quincy Jones’ rendition in his Soulful Celebration album (so good!).
As a double declaration, a strong command rather than an invitation, the prophet says the word “comfort” twice. To me that says that we’re not messing around here, this comfort that God desires for us is real and very important.
What is this comfort that we are to receive? The consolation and care that comes from knowing that God sees all that we are, all we are going through and have gone through, and in it all, God is with us. My elevator version of this passage is: “God’s got this and God’s got you.”
In verse 10 it gets personal. God’s comfort comes both as power and might to forgive our sins, to wash our hearts clean, to heal our broken souls AND as the loving, personal, up close care of a shepherd holding a lamb close to his heart.
I love that!
Look at the verbs in verse 11: God feeds us, gathers us, carries us, and leads us. Very up close and personal.
That’s one of my favorite pictures of Jesus. He’s the shepherd and I’m the lamb in his flock. In the midst of all the chaos of the external landscape around me, the pressing issues of my life, and the questions and fears in my heart, He picks me up and holds me gently against his chest.
He holds me so close, lightly yet securely, that He can hear my heart beat.
And I can hear His too! The best comfort ever!
Imagination Prayer invites us to visualize and experience scripture as our own. I invite you to sit quietly for a few moments, take a couple of deep inhales and exhales, and settle into this scene: Jesus reaching down to pick you up and hold you. Notice your initial response to this very intentional and physical act of comfort on His part. Let yourself settle into that place with Jesus and rest in his care. You are safe. You are loved. You are held.
Dear Jesus, help me to receive your care and comfort. To be your lamb.
To let you hold me. To rest in your love, now and in the days to come.
About the Author
A long-time resident of Chicago, Oreon is a seasoned urban ministry practitioner, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and Enneagram consultant. She currently lives and serves with the Jesus People community in the city's Uptown neighborhood. Oreon plays a mean blues guitar, loves to laugh deeply, and appreciates a serious cup of coffee. @oreont